Taipei hopefuls spar on party role in activism

Taipei hopefuls spar on party role in activism

TAIPEI - Candidates seeking to represent the opposition camp in the Taipei mayoral race expressed support for the students occupying the Legislature yesterday, but disagreed on how much the party should be involved in student movements.

Wellington Ku said the Democratic Progressive Party should take a leading role in guiding student movements, but Ke Wen-che said political parties' over-involvement would only undermine the legitimacy of such protest actions.

The mayoral hopefuls were speaking at an event in support of DPP candidates campaigning for seats on the Taipei City Council.

Ku, a human rights lawyer, said if the DPP stands behind the student movements, it will never be able to win even if the ruling Kuomintang lacks support.

He said the DPP must return to the ideals that it embraced previously, advocating democracy and local values like when it was active in organising demonstrations in the 1980s and 1990s.

The DPP should play more than just a supporting role in student movements, Ku said. "It should stand at the forefront of student movements," he said.

"Excessive involvement in student movements by political parties would blur the focus and taint the purity of the movements," said Ke, a doctor.

"Political parties do not need to be involved too much, or even deliberately intervene. They should just show concern, provide assistance and logistics supplies," said Ke.

Former Premier Frank Hsieh said the DPP now can hardly mobilize people to take part in massive protests.

"It (the DPP) can only raise objections in the Legislature, participate in voting, and lose after the voting. It cannot change the (government's) policies," Hsieh said.

Hsieh said the current controversy over the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement could be solved by calling a national affairs conference where promises could be made on parts that all sides could agree on.

Ke said the government may not have to accept all of the students' demands, as all sides involved should make some concessions of their own. He called on the government to hold a national conference.

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